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Chief Adjudication Officer

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list for each of the recomrnendations made in the second report of the chief adjudication officer which affect his Department the action which has been taken to implement them.

Six recommendations in the 1985–86 annual report of the Chief Adjudication Officer (CAO) related to my Department. The recommendations together with a summary of the response given by my Department to the CAO, are as follows:

Recommendation 9

"While fully recognising the manpower constraints to which the Unemployment Benefit Service is subject, I can only observe that a better use of AOs time, through adequate support staff to pursue enquiries necessary for deciding claims etc. should pay considerable dividends. I, therefore, recommend again that such support should be improved".

Response

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 3 December at column 673.

Recommendation 10

"Improvement in the quality of decision-making is unlikely to occur if the number of decisions expected from each AO is as high as at present. I, therefore, recommend again that DE carry out a review of the time allowance".

Response

A Management services survey in November 1986 formed the view that there was not sufficient evidence to justify an approach to the Treasury for an increase to the time allowances. However, the number of adjudication officers has increased from 345 in April 1986 to over 500 currently, an increase of 45 per cent. while work load has increased by substantially less.

Recommendation 11

"I regard it as important that RASs should have the capacity to continue casework monitoring and also adjudication on trade disputes. I, therefore recommend that DE should make available within each Region, adequate resources to enable the RAOs to continue these functions".

Response

Instructions were issued in March 1987 to regional adjudication officers and sector adjudication managers setting out the arrangements for monitoring the quality of adjudication officers' decisions and appeal submissions. These were agreed with the office of the CAO. The Department believes that adequate resources are available to perform the tasks referred to in the recommendation.

Recommendations 18, 19 and 25

"I think it important that DE should utilise the very considerable knowledge and experience which we can offer on training. I, accordingly, recommend that DE bring OCAO fully into discussions on the training needed by DE AOs and in the preparation of course material".
"I recommend that the Birmingham DE trainers should play a full part in the future development of training material".
"I recommend that DE Sector Adjudication Managers (HEO/AOs) should be required to examine at regular and frequent intervals appeal submissions prepared by each of their AOs".

Response

These recommendations have been implemented.